American Anthem

American Anthem


Artist: Ying Quartet

Composers: Samuel Barber, Howard Hanson, Randall Thompson

Format: 1 CD + 1 Pure Audio Blu-ray


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American Anthem: The Music of Samuel Barber & Howard Hanson

Sono Luminus has come together again with the amazing talent of the Ying Quartet, and is excited to release American Anthem: The Music of Samuel Barber & Howard Hanson. Bringing together musical selections that are truly expressive of the American spirit, this album also includes a selection from American composer Randall Thompson, and features pianist Adam Neiman and baritone Randall Scarlata.

What makes American music American? There have been many answers to that debate, both in music and in words. Samuel Barber was a composer who did not aim to write “American” music. Though Barber was born and raised in West Chester, PA, many observers note that he seemed equally if not more at home in Europe, in particular Italy and England. In fact, Gian Carlo Menotti, his longtime partner, said in an interview that Barber did not believe in being American and was not interested in Americana. Barber himself once criticized other composers’ works saying, “A collage of a little bit of this and that doesn’t make American music American.” And yet, now Barber is considered one of the most celebrated—certainly one of the most performed and recorded—American composers of all.

On the other hand, Howard Hanson has been described by some as, “the greatest protagonist for American music that has ever lived.” Indeed, in addition to his own compositions, Hanson claimed to have premiered over 2000 works by American composers through his Festivals of American Music, first in California and then for many years in Rochester, NY. Though Hanson enjoyed considerable success with his works during his lifetime, his chamber music now is rarely performed. Hanson’s own answer to the question of what American music is was to say that American music is nothing more than music by American composers. On this disc, we are pleased to present the major string quartet works of these two very important figures in American music of the first half of the 20th century.

Track List

String Quartet, Op 11 (Samuel Barber)
1. Molto allegro e appassionato  7:30
2. Molto adagio [attacca]  6:52
3. Molto allegro (come prima)  2:14
4. Andante mosso, un poco agitato- allegro molto, alla breve  5:02

Serenade for String Quartet, Op. 1 (Samuel Barber)
5. Un poco adagio - Allegro con spirito  3:18
6. Andante con moto  2:03
7. Dance. Allegro giocoso  3:07

8. Dover Beach, Op. 3 (Samuel Barber)  8:08

9. String Quartet, Op. 23 (Howard Hanson)  15:09

10. Concerto da camera (Howard Hanson)  15:18

11. Alleluia  (Randall Thompson)  5:21

Total time: 74:02
Release date: March 2013
UPC: 053479216625

Quotes & Reviews

This is a highly recommended release, and not only to self-confessed fans of American music. 

Edward Bhesania, The Strad

American Anthem is a testament to our nation’s great composers, and one of the year’s most powerful chamber-music recordings.

Greg Cahill, Strings Magazine

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

The closure is entrusted to the ‘Alleluia' by Randall Thompson (here only arranged for string quartet), which with its formal purity and sincerity of feeling is a perfect appendix to this magnificent album. (Google Translation of Italian.) 

Filippo Focosi, Kathodik

…rare talent is on display here. 

Barber’s familiar quartet shows the Yings’ precise technical skill and deep artistry.

…baritone Randall Scarlatta delivers a splendid performance complemented sensitively by the quartet.

The Yings and Nieman play with the utmost taste, and the result is haunting.

Greg Pagel, American Record Guide (July 2013)

Unlike much of the 20th century American music, all of these works are quite accessible and fall easily on the ear. Through the vehicle of the string quartet, each composer’s inner voice becomes readily apparent, an excellent introduction for those new to this music.

These pieces, superbly played and getting deluxe sound recording, make strong cases for each one. Of course, the Barber Adagio and the Thompson Alleluia will be headliners, as they should be, but there is much enjoyment to be had in the remaining selections. An excellent way to access some 20th century Americana in the comfort of your listening room that Sono Luminous transforms into a compelling sound stage.

Lawrence D. Devoe, MD, TheaterByte

The famous Adagio is beautifully conceived and executed by the Yings, building smoothly and inexorable to its stunning climax and then slowly fading away.

…a great album…

Phil Muse, Audio Video Club of Atlanta

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Another audio-only Blu-ray winner from Sono Luminus.

The Ying Quartet brings together two very important American figures writing for the quartet format, in a program they have put together which is truly expressive of the American spirit in classical music. Then they round out the album with a special arrangement of the choral Alleluia of Randall Thompson, which also beautifully fits into the general theme.

The Ying Quartet performs all the works with great feeling, and the fidelity is clear and detailed.

John Sunier, Audiophile Audition

The Ying Quartet…has a reputation for fresh programming in the often moribund string quartet field, and this release is no exception…this collection of American 20th-century Romanticism hangs together beautifully and lives up to its title. A superior release of American chamber music.

James Manheim, AllMusic

The Ying Quartet is simply marvelous in this recording providing a real richness and depth of tone. The performances are wonderfully shaped and there is a sense that these musicians really love this music deeply and are committed to its effects on the audience. Carefully thought out tempos and a great overall balance within the quartet create some amazing results all wonderfully captured by the Sono Luminus engineers. This is a must have for American music fans hands down.

MaestroSteve, Cinemusical

This is a highly recommended release, and not only to self-confessed fans of American music.
— Edward Bhesania, The Strad

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